Canon Status: Official, derived from Liber Ecstatica
One might be mistaken to assume that the Brotherhood of Clockmakers is some sort of society that revolves around making clocks. Far from it.
Once a tiny society focused around Nuln, The Brotherhood now has chapter houses in several other cities throughout the Empire. While the chapter houses are often large, impressive buildings, the society is very secretive, especially about its membership.
Those that wish to join must go through a lengthy initiation procedure, make several proclamations to other members, and finally, learn various secret gestures and keywords so that they can be identifiable to other members of the society.
The chapter house is not just a place to relax and converse with like-minded citizens, however. The Brotherhood has several tenets to which members must adhere, including remaining upstanding citizens of the Empire, following a strict moral code, demonstrating a willingness to help other members, exhibiting a passion for self-improvement, insisting upon charitable donations, and taking an oath to keep the secrets of the society safe.
As a result, the group has become rather popular with the mercantile and tradesman classes. This group in particular desires respect, both for their status from those below them and for their
achievements from those above them. The Brotherhood is the perfect vehicle to help gain the respect that these artisans desire, especially through the charitable foundations and projects funded through member donations. Recent projects have included a new well dug in the poor part of Ubersreik, a statue of Karl Franz raised in Carroburg, and large donations to the libraries of the Imperial Universities.
The reason, however, behind the desire for self-improvement is that The Brotherhood does not trust the pantheon of Imperial gods to guide its members through life and provide for them. Junior members are subjected to long, dreary talks about ‘the clockwork universe’ that governs the destiny of the world, and all that live upon it. This is reflected in the sign of the guild, which is a single, open eye set upon a clock face.
To the inner circle of members within each chapter house, the true secrets of the ‘clockwork universe’ have been revealed. Each member must renounce any loyalty to Sigmar, Shallya, Rhya, Ulric, or any other deity they once served. Once the atheistic oath has been taken, the members are inducted into the chapter house’s ‘inner sanctum’, where they are told about ‘the Clockmakers.’
The group believes that the Old World has long been abandoned by any divine power, and that humanity, along with the other races, was left to its own devices after the world was created millennia ago. This belief is expressed in one of the many phrases uttered between Brotherhood fellows: “Man hath no destiny except thine own.”
This tenet was written by the Brotherhood’s founder, Henrik Von Staffen, a failed engineer who awoke one day to find he had been press-ganged onto a ship heading for Lustria. Von Staff en
led a mutiny on the voyage back to the Old World and returned wealthy beyond his dreams, both in terms of gold and knowledge. No one outside the Brotherhood is certain what Von Staffen found in Lustria, but some whisper of strange temples with golden plates telling the history of the world in pictures. With his own “expertise” (to be generous), Von Staffen identified the figures on the plates as the creators of the world, and being a worker in clockwork himself he dubbed them ‘the Clockmakers.’ He used his fortune to found the Brotherhood in his home town of Nuln, where ‘The Great Text,’ the book that holds both the secrets of the society
and of the Clockmakers themselves, remains to this day. No one except the current Grand Master may even touch the book, and it is kept under constant guard, even though the tome is written in a code known only to the leadership core.
The Brotherhood believe that the Clockmakers left coded messages and signs of their return around the Old World before their mysterious disappearance aeons ago. Ciphers are regularly sent to the various chapter houses when new parts of the ‘Great Text’ have been translated. The members, skilled in building works and excavations, are then sent to uncover whatever mysteries remain at these prehistoric sites. The exact locations are always kept a secret from even junior members; the information returned is also coded so that only inner sanctum members can increase their knowledge of the Clockmakers, and ascertain when (or if) they may return.
Maintaining their secrecy is paramount to their survival. Thus, from the outset; the Brotherhood appears to be nothing more than a mutual beneficial society built on the principle of helping one another, and only those who work their way up the ranks within the society may learn the true purpose of the Brotherhood of Clockmakers. Yet even that true purpose may seem benign enough, so why the secrecy?
Heresy. At the core of their belief, is atheism. A total rejection of all the gods. An incredibly dangerous view to have in the Old World. It’s because of this that the Brotherhood would indeed have a long list of enemies; Witch Hunters, Inquisitors, Zealots and the Devout Man; be he noble, peasant or of no class.
As such, to maintain their secrecy the Brotherhood evaluates all members who join their ranks with harmless unassuming religious theology questions to allow them an insight into the working mind of those who join them. Those who express an averse attitude towards the divine are closely watched for their suitability to take the Clockmakers oath.
Yet, there is one enemy that is the Brotherhood’s greatest foe, far greater than any Witch Hunter or Inquisitor.